Technological and political trends both serve to increase biological threats, and the danger of a catastrophic attack cannot be dismissed. Conventional arms control and non-proliferation approaches will continue to play a role in addressing this threat, but they are they are increasingly unable to cope with rapidly changing and globally disseminating technologies, or with the non-state terrorist threat. Diplomatic and military approaches must be supplemented by new partnerships among the international scientific, public health, medical, and law enforcement communities; state and local governments; private industry; and others. No single policy measure or interested community, by itself, will suffice. Instead, a concerted and coordinated web of actions must be developed to counter — at every possible stage — terrorist and national activities to develop, acquire, produce, deploy, and benefit from biological weapons and bioterror. Accordingly, the CSIS Biological Threat Reduction (BTR) project is establishing an international BTR Consortium of think tanks; scientific, public health and safety organizations; universities; and individuals to build an international BTR agenda for action.

The CSIS Biological Threat Reduction program is pursuing a comprehensive, international, interdisciplinary approach to countering the biological threat that spans four distinct yet related policy areas:

  • stigmatizing the development and use of such weapons (dissuade would-be terrorists);
  • securing weapons-relevant materials, infrastructure, and expertise (deny materiel);
  • uncovering and impeding the malicious application of legitimate biology and biotechnology; (detect illegitimate activity); and
  • strengthening and integrating a global health/international security response system to significantly reduce the effectiveness of bioterrorism (defend against deliberate attacks).